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Operations & Maintenance: Locker Rooms

Quality Materials, Security Improve Locker Room, Restroom Upkeep

By Deborah L. Vence

Tending to fitness equipment and exercise rooms is a daily job, ensuring that each apparatus is wiped down and sanitized regularly, and that any necessary repairs are made in a timely manner.

And so it goes for locker rooms and restrooms in recreation facilities as they need attention to detail, too. Keeping them clean and orderly is a must—from the daily tasks of scrubbing toilets and cleaning sinks and floors to making sure the necessary security measures are in place.

Here, recreation industry experts shared some of their guidelines for top maintenance, how design and materials can help reduce maintenance costs, as well as some of the best ways to manage operational issues, such as security, that help keep locker rooms and restrooms in check.

Tips for Top Maintenance, Lowering Costs

Surely, there are a number of ways to make maintaining locker rooms and restrooms more efficient—from regular cleaning schedules to the type of locking devices used on lockers to the location of the janitor's closet.

"We usually try to have a janitor's closet near the locker room, where you can go into the closet, get products and get the material they need to restack the toilet paper, or whatever they may have, and have quick and easy ways to access that," said Colleen McKenna, an associate principal with Cannon Design, a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm. "There's a bucket and mop right there, which makes it easy for staff to clean the locker room on a daily or hourly basis."

Another way to ease maintenance is through locking devices.

"If you choose to have day locker use only, patrons are expected to bring padlocks with them, and lock the locker," McKenna said. "Sometimes the patrons won't remove their locks, so the operators have to come back at the end of the day and snip the locks off. That puts the burden back on our clients."

One possible solution in this case is to use a digital lock, a type of lock that some recreation facilities are beginning to use.

"It will time out after two or three hours," she said.

"[The facilities] don't have the responsibility, therefore, of clipping padlocks and emptying materials into a lost-and-found box and being responsible for what happens to all the materials," she said.

And don't forget that grout—a type of construction material used between wall and floor tiles— can make a difference, too. Grout should be the color of dirt, McKenna noted. No matter how good of a cleaning job is done, white grout will age over time.

So, "You need to be conscientious of tile selection, [something that] will hide color and dirt. There are endless colors. There is an endless variety of tiles, tile selection and grout, virtually any," McKenna said.

And, certainly, that can help reduce maintenance costs, too, by not having to replace the grout as much.

Meanwhile, other ways to cut back on costs include lowering energy consumption or water conservation that can help in locker rooms in which you have water-efficient showerheads or toilets and faucets.

"Anything that you can do to decrease the amount of water will save money from an operations standpoint," McKenna said. "If you do the air dryers or hand dryers for washing hands; if you don't have paper towels, you're saving on not purchasing paper towels.

"Anything you can do on the energy side, ventilation, is a huge requirement for a locker room," she added. "You need to keep the air movement going. From a maintenance standpoint, you need to have good quality air."